Water Baptism a Precursor to Spirit Baptism
When and How Do We Receive the Holy Spirit?
When / How Do We Receive the Holy Spirit?
by Dan Therrien
Answer: Romans 8:9 tells us that if a person does not possess the Holy Spirit, he or she does not belong to Christ: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for all those who believe: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.”
The Holy Spirit could not be the “seal of salvation” (Ephesians 1:13-14) if He is not received at the moment of salvation. Many scriptures make it abundantly clear that our salvation is secured the moment we receive Christ as Savior.
The Holy Spirit is given to believers so that they might have the power to live like Jesus and be different than they were before. It is a matter of giving up areas of our lives over to the Holy Spirits control to have him fill it with the Spirit. As we walk with the Lord and obey, He continually fills us with His Spirit so we are progressing in the sanctification process and can be more effective in other people’s lives. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). The filling of the Spirit is a command not an option (Eph. 5:18). Being filled has to do with allowing the Spirit to be the dominating influence over our life, not letting self or the world influence our lives. It is about yielding, allowing His control to influence and affect our character which will have others see Christ through our lives.
There is no command in Scripture that tells us to be re-baptized by the Holy Spirit. Why? Because it is something that immediately happens when one is born again. Teaching another baptism with the Holy Spirit for those who are born again is not correct; the Bible teaches to be filled and refilled as a continual and necessary process.
When faith is exercised at the moment one believes, the Holy Spirit indwells us (Gal. 3:2).
A Spirit filled person or church will be bold in proclaiming the truth, the gospel and standing against error. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
What many believe as a separate baptism should more accurately be called a filling of the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is a daily thing, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (baptized into the Body by the Holy Spirit) happens only once. So the baptism with the Spirit is what takes place at salvation which places us in the body of Christ and He indwells us. The filling of the Spirit is part of our sanctification, our discipleship, as we give over the areas we need to for his control.
Is Water Baptism Required to Receive the Holy Spirit?
Answer: We must remember that Jesus was baptized with water as part of his work to fulfill the law but Christ never baptized anyone with water but with the Holy Spirit. Gal. 3:2 makes it clear that we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we exercise our faith by proclaiming Christ as your Lord and Savior, not by works by following Jewish law which includes water baptism. John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and Ephesians 4:5 states there is only one baptism which is obviously baptism of the Holy Spirit. So when Christ commands us to be baptized in His name, this is what He is speaking about. Water baptism is an act by Christians to profess the new found faith to others but has no saving properties.
Acts 2:38 states, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The Greek preposition eis in Acts 2:38 should be translated “because of” or “in view of,” and not “in order to,” or “for the purpose of.” So a more accurate understanding could read, when someone believes and repents for the forgiveness of sins you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
One example of how this preposition is used in other Scriptures is seen in Matthew 12:41 where the word eis communicates the “result” of an action. In this case it is said that the people of Nineveh “repented at the preaching of Jonah” (the word translated “at” is the same Greek word eis). Clearly, the meaning of this passage is that they repented “because of’” or “as the result of” Jonah’s preaching. In the same way, it would be possible that Acts 2:38 is indeed communicating the fact that they were to be baptized “as the result of” or “because” they already had believed and in doing so had already received forgiveness of their sins (John 1:12; John 3:14-18; John 5:24; John 11:25-26; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:39; Acts 16:31; Acts 26:18; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 1:12-14). This interpretation of the passage is also consistent with the message recorded in Peter’s next two sermons to unbelievers where he associates the forgiveness of sins with the act of repentance and faith in Christ without even mentioning baptism (Acts 3:17-26; Acts 4:8-12).
Why had the believers in Samaria not received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8)?
Answer: In Acts 8:12 we read of a group of Samaritans who “believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, [and] they were baptized, both men and women.” However, when we get to Acts 8:16, we find that “the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” We understand, based on passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:13, that Christians receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. How was it that the Samaritans whom Philip evangelized did not receive the Holy Spirit?
First, it is good to remember the book of Acts is a history of how God started the church. It is the record of the transition between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and much of what we see in Acts relates to that transition. The Samaritans’ manner of receiving the Spirit should be taken for what it is—an accurate account of what happened in their case. It should not be construed as normative in every case. The believing Samaritans had been baptized in water, but, for God’s own reasons, they had not yet been baptized in the Spirit.
Second, we should note that the Spirit did come upon the Samaritans (Acts 8:14–17), but not until the apostles Peter and John were present. There are some good reasons why God waited until Peter and John were present before He sent the Holy Spirit upon the Samaritans:
1) Jesus had given Peter the “keys to the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19). Peter was present—and was the main spokesman—at Pentecost (Acts 2), when the Spirit was given to the Jews. Peter was present in Samaria (Acts 8), when the Spirit was given to the Samaritans. And Peter was present in Cornelius’s house (Acts 10), when the Spirit was given to the Gentiles. Jesus used Peter to “open the door” to each of these people groups.
2) The church was to be “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). Philip had been a deacon in the Jerusalem church, but he was not one of the twelve apostles. Peter and John needed to be in Samaria for the “official” start of the Samaritan church, just as they had been in Jerusalem for the start of the Jewish church.
3) The presence of Peter and John kept the early church unified. Remember, there was great animosity between Jews and Samaritans (John 4:9). If the church in Samaria had begun on its own, with no connection to the “Jewish” church, the church in Jerusalem would never have accepted it. The Samaritans were known historically as corruptors of Judaism (John 4:20). So God made sure that Peter and John, apostles and Jews from Jerusalem, were present to witness the gift of the Spirit given to the Samaritans. God’s message: the church in Samaria was no heretical start-up. The Samaritans were part of the same church that had been started in Jerusalem, and they were filled with the same Spirit (see Galatians 3:28). Peter and John were eyewitnesses. Their testimony was clear: what happened in Samaria was not a separate religious movement. In this way, God prevented the early church from immediately dividing into different sects.
The Lord took
pains to ensure the unity of the early church. Jesus had commanded the gospel to
be preached in Samaria (Acts
Philip the evangelist obeyed that command, and God blessed. Whatever animosity
existed between the Jews and the Samaritans was overcome by the unity of the
Spirit. The church today should continue to “make every effort to keep the unity
of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians